We must fight distracted driving by ending road headS

To commemorate our first day at Autoblognik, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asked to address our readers directly. How could we say no? — Ed.

I know the readers of Autoblognik understand the dangers of distracted driving because you've been sounding the alarm on this epidemic for years. Most Autoblognik readers know by now that real drivers just drive. But we need to have a frank talk about an important piece of this puzzle: people who think a stick shift is in a driver's pants.

As you know, I'm passionate about stopping distracted driving. Many of today's drivers are too busy texting or talking on their mobile phones while driving. And, because I appreciate the heavy lifting Autoblognik and its readers have been doing on this issue, I'm making my appeal to America's automotive fans right here: Stop getting freaky behind the wheel.

We all know that Americans love their cars. In Peoria, Ill., where I grew up, the weather isn't as kind to our vehicles as it is in other places, but we do have miles of scenic roads between towns where drivers can really enjoy the hum of their car as they take it for a long drive. Yet it's just those kind of situations where science tells us are prone to a much riskier type of humming.

We must fight distracted driving by ending road head
America's traffic cameras witness more nooky than a trout stream in spawning season.

Like you, I love driving. I have a 1998 Buick Regal in Washington, D.C., as well as a Ford Escape back home in Peoria. And, also like you, when I drive, I want to do so on roads that are not full of people who simply don't pay attention, whether from using a cellphone, the Twitter or a vigorous knob polishing.

Studies show that 15% of drivers admit to having loosed a trouser cobra while driving, and the sad reality is that these people are causing harm to the rest of us. Using your cellphone puts your passengers at risk, but chickenheading a driver distracts others as well, many of whom seem to think these activities are as rare as a Sasquatch citing at Starbucks. If you're one of these amateur Larry Flynts, please stop: America's traffic cameras witness more nooky than a trout stream in spawning season.

I know most readers of Autoblognik are not part of the problem, but I hope you can be part of the solution. I'd really like the car buffs on Autoblognik to tell other people about these dangers. To help research this problem, I have asked our experts at the Department of Transportation to perform more in-depth studies, and we're working on public service announcements built on the simple message: "Hands on the wheels, eyes on the street, no time to skeet."

With your help, we can save lives, make our roads safer and keep America's used vehicles clean. We will not stop until we come to a satisfying conclusion.